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Complete As Human As to Breathe by Hijja - T

Discussion in 'The Alternates' started by TallDarkStranger, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. TallDarkStranger

    TallDarkStranger Fourth Year

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    Title: As Human As To Breathe
    Author: Hijja
    Rating: T
    Genre: AU/General
    Status: Complete, 15k words
    Library Category: General
    Pairings: Albus Dumbledore/Gellert Grindelwald
    Summary: Step into a world where Ariana Dumbledore lived...
    Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/76683

    Every so often, a reddit thread on "Your Favorite Unknown Story" brings up a fanfic that is not only actually known, but also pretty interesting.
    If you dislike slash, like I do, don't press Ctrl+W just yet - this story is slash only in name. There's no mention of romance, barely a few passing hints, and well worth it to not think twice about them because they don't matter.

    Enter an AU where Bathilda Bagshot comes to check on her nephew's activities, and barely manages to nullify the spell that would have otherwise killed Ariana Dumbledore. Without this stimulus, Albus is not the man we know him to be - the muggle loving, fearful-of-his-own-power Supreme Commander of the Light that we love and admire (or hate and resent, pick your poison). This story showcases 7 breaks in canon stations that shape AD into a different man, it would seem.

    Easy 4/5 for believable changes, -1 for the one seeming character break which sort of breaks immersion.

    What is that they say about every great magic trick again?
     
  2. Tenages

    Tenages Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    This is excellent. One of the best I've read in a while and it makes it's way onto my favorite oneshots list. Dumbledore is handled excellently I thought.

    5/5
     
  3. startrekfan

    startrekfan Squib

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    Wouldn't you like to know...
    A oneshot like they are supposed to be, drawing you in, showing small glimpses and letting you fill in the rest.
    In my opinion the character of Dumbledore is handled exceptionally well, which is a rarity with such a complex character.
    This is one of the few realy well handled 'what if's and as such deserves in my opinion a place in the library.

    I cannot really find anyhing to criticize, and am therefore rating it 5/5.
     
  4. Lord Murtaza

    Lord Murtaza First Year

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    Few stories from the perspective of Albus Dumbledore ever get it right - the complex web of emotions, thoughts and principles that is the mind of ‘the greatest wizard since Merlin’, is not within the capability of your average fanfiction author to write. That said however, it pleases me to state, that this is one of the few pieces that does (get it right, that is).

    If slash is not your cup of tea, fret not, for as OP mentions there is little in the way of romance between the two characters. Rather, this is a tale of internal conflict and a maturing of the Albus Dumbledore we have not seen in canon (but presume must have happened behind the scenes in the books). The quality of the writing is evident, and is enough for me to want to wish the author to have written AD's perspective of all seven books, instead of an AU here - there can be no doubt the author has talent.

    This is not to say however, that the piece is flawless, as opined by a DLP member above. The fic starts off well, but by the middle starts to buckle under the weight of it's own story and has some glaring faults. Without spoiling anything, this one-shot suffers from serious character break, mediocre battle magic, jarring time-shifts and is compounded by an ambiguous ending. Normally I enjoy a good ambiguous ending, but in this case it does more harm than good and left me with a more-confused-than-anything feeling by the end of it.

    Thus, I am in a quandary- the first half of the piece truly merits a 5/5, whilst the rest is something I would give a 3 or perhaps 3.5. Since I cannot give parts of the story different ratings, overall I would give this an average of 4/5.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  5. Tenages

    Tenages Unspeakable DLP Supporter

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    A thought out and fair review, though I think you rate the second half of the story harsher than it deserves, but hey different tastes and all and you support your opinion well. One thing has me confused though. You describe the ending as ambiguous. Ending seemed clear as day to me. Not sure if I missed something, what about it did you find ambiguous.
    Seems to me the ending makes it very clear that everything that preceded it (parts i - vi) never happened, and are just what Dumbledore sees in the Mirror of Erised. The story ends with Albus's POV of the canon Mirror of Erised scene with Harry. The ending scene is fairly explicit about what's going on.

    "
    "It shows us what we want... whatever we want..."

    "Yes and no," says Albus. He clings to a lifetime of teaching and experience to prevent the pain from strangling his voice. "It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts."

    And to those gifted with a knack for enhancing magic, the ancient artefact can do so much more than showing an image. It can offer an entire alternative world of adventure and affection in place of death, sacrifice and a lifetime of loneliness."

    I.E. Albus is a genius and managed to enhance the Mirror so that instead of a picture, it shows a whole movie. The ending line that hammers home that same point.

    " Pointless most of all because whatever the boy may think, he hasn't lied to Harry Potter. He knows that, if he looked, he would still see socks in the Mirror of Erised – the socks, Gellert's gift, that has never been real."

    Seems fairly unambiguous to me. Then the author adds an AN at the end to make that even clearer. "Endnote: This fic very badly wanted to be titled "Erised, or Seven Things That Never Happened to Albus Dumbledore (and One That Did)", but that would've sort of given away things :(."

    What did you find an ambiguous about the ending. Interest what you're seeing there, and if I'm missing something.



    Incidentally I thought that what I perceived as the unambiguous nature of the ending actually strengthens and improves what would otherwise be the weaker latter parts of the story. I think it pretty much completely explains and justifies what character breaking exists, and to a lesser extent the battle magic issues. (I explain more in the spoiler below.)

    Dumbledore isn't necessarily in line with his perfectly in line with his canon characterization, in the middle - end, because it's not real, it's his fantasy. And in this fantasy, not only is history different, but so is Gellert's character (radically different) and Dumbledore's character (much less radically different.) The further into the fantasy we get (i.e the further it moves from actual history and into Dumbledore's most desperate imaginations), the more Dumbledore/Grindelwald's characters differ from what we know of canon. You could also argue it being a fantasy explains the subpar battle magic -- the fantasy requires Gellert to rescue him, so Dumbledore must therefore be worse at battle magic than in reality -- but I think it's more likely that the author was just not great at writing battle scenes.)

    I didn't find the timeshifts jarring at all personally, but YMMV.
     
  6. Elaphites

    Elaphites Muggle

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    Thank you for sharing this little gem. Well-written "what if" stories are quite rare, and this one is particularly interesting. I didn't find the end ambiguous at all either, but very satisfying instead. On a side note, the short comic mentioned by the author as the inspiration for the story is also worth a read!
     
  7. Agni

    Agni Second Year

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    A rather enjoyable one-shot.

    It has got a strong start, easily drawing the reader into it. The voice of the protagonist is something I can easily imagine to be that of a young Dumbledore.

    Though the story gets somewhat weaker towards the end as already opined by the members above, it attempts to tie the loose ends nicely.
    I would rate it 3.5/5 rounded to 3. It would have easily been rounded to 4 had the battle scene been not so lame.
     
  8. raobuntu

    raobuntu First Year

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    I truly enjoyed the characterization, especially how well the author captured Dumbledore's voice. That said, my 3.5/5 rating is mostly because the author's battle scenes didn't capture the elegance of Dumbledore's magic. The way Dumbledore fights in the story is closer to how I would expect Harry. Functional and efficient, bug again, lacking in that trademark elegance that makes it so Dumbledore.

    3.5/5 rounded up to 4 for writing a good Dumbledore, something very hard to do.
     
  9. Republic

    Republic The Snow Queen Prestige DLP Supporter

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    I'll agree that the ending wasn't ambiguous, a few lines in. I will argue that it cheapens the rest of the story, since it appears without warning and invalidates everything we read so far. If the last scene had been the first, I'd feel differently, knowing what I was getting into.

    As it is, 4/5 for some of the best Dumbledore writing that I've seen and some very interesting exploration, albeit with some flaws that I cannot ignore from the rating.
     
  10. traveller42

    traveller42 Muggle

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    I normally only lurk here but this was such a good story and sufficiently different that I just had to say something. It's nice so see a positive spin of how Dumbledore / Grindlewald could have come out. When I first read the story, I too thought the ending was ambiguous but the comments here have convinced me that it isn't.
     
  11. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros.

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    Pretty good writing. The author gets Dumbledore's voice in a way few people do, and it ties in very nicely within canon as a creative little character-building piece. The only thing lacking is the "meh-ness" of his fight scenes, but otherwise it's a good story.

    4/5.
     
  12. coolname95

    coolname95 First Year

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    I thought Dumbledore's characterization was very well done, especially his moral qualms about the things he would have done with Grindelwald. I felt like he did capture Dumbledore's "voice".

    I found the worst part of the story to be the rather mediocre battle magic, and the last two scenes weren't as strong: I thought the Hogwarts scene where Grindelwald is made headmaster was a bit pointless - I felt like the author could have shown more of how they got there. The ending also felt a bit cheap.

    In any case, it's a 4/5 from me, for being technically good and writing a good Dumbledore.
     
  13. LinguaManiac

    LinguaManiac Second Year

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    So... if no one else is going to be that guy, I am. Dumbledore would never have said "preventative genocide." That word was invented to explain the Holocaust. Even during the Armenian Genocide, we didn't have a word for it. The Americans (or perhaps it was the Germans, ironically enough) who saw it happening called it "race murder."

    Outside of that quibble, an easy 5/5. It would have been a 4/5 (fun and interesting and well-written but not spectacular), but then that ending -- That Ending!

     
  14. ️oi w0t

    ️oi w0t Muggle

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    The story started and continued on beautifully. I disagree with the notion that the time jumps are excessive and jarring, but rather feel that it streamlines the story into the essentials that allow this to be a one-shot. The pacing, to me, is wonderful, and the narrative voice is brisk, containing a well-balanced mix of narration and dialogue that intrigues the audience and keeps them glued to the story. The way information is exposed is also elegant, with indirect mentions to locations, objects, and settings, which is key to great writing.

    The characterisations of Albus, Aberforth, and Gellert are all on-point for the majority of the story, and minor characters such as Percival and Gregorovitch are masterfully built as well.

    That said, some of the structuring I cannot agree with. The flashback to the night before Percival's capture should not have been slotted abruptly between a line, but rather after Albus' statement to Gellert.

    I also disliked the final of the scenes, where Gellert is the Deputy Headmaster, and Albus is Headmaster. Despite the rest of the story being logical in progression, especially given Ariana's non-death, this last section is not one that one can immediately assume from Gellert saving Albus. Yes, there might be a sense of betrayal Gellert might have felt when his followers attacked Albus, or a lingering sense of love towards Albus that might've compelled Gellert to save Albus, but I don't believe that it was significant enough for Gellert to completely abandon anything and become a teacher, of all professions. Gellert wasn't one for compassion, as mentioned in the story, so I don't see where this comes around. And if one argues that it is because the story is in Dumbledore's wishes, I think that given that the rest of his aspirations were in logical chronological progression, this scene should've been too.

    Then there is the fight scene, which, honestly, is poorly characterised and choreographed. It just seems unrealistic for Dumbledore, even if he is youthful and inexperienced, to lose so badly, have so little elegance and grace, and also for the opponents to fight one-by-one, which is the impression the choreography of the fight gave me. Thus, it lowers the quality of the story as well.

    Nonetheless, the real scene, with Harry and the mirror, is beautiful, and adds a depth to the story. If one was to create a book, a compilation of various Dumbledore scenes from Dumbledore's perspective that are in the Harry Potter story, I can see this story appearing in it, as it fits the maturity of the characters and mood at the end of the Harry Potter series, with recurring themes of love, death, betrayal, and guilt.

    The story really shines through, even with its flaws, and I loved it throughout. A solid 4/5 here.